Child Abuse

What Are the Major Types of Child Abuse and Neglect?†

Within the minimum standards set by CAPTA, each State is responsible for providing its own definitions of child abuse and neglect. Most States recognize four major types of maltreatment: physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, and emotional abuse. Although any of the forms of child maltreatment may be found separately, they often occur in combination. In many States, abandonment and parental substance abuse are also defined as forms of child abuse or neglect.

What You Can Do: Recognize the Warning Signs

The behavior of children may signal abuse or neglect long before any change in physical appearance. Some of the signs may include:

  • Nervousness around adults
  • Aggression toward adults or other children
  • Inability to stay awake or to concentrate for extended periods
  • Sudden, dramatic changes in personality or activities
  • Unnatural interest in sex
  • Frequent or unexplained bruises or injuries
  • Low self-esteem
  • Poor hygiene

If you see these signs in any children you know, reach out to them and to their parents and offer a helping hand.

Report Suspected Abuse or Neglect

If you suspect abuse or neglect may be occurring, report it. To find out how, call information or contact your department of social services listed under in the phone book. If you think a child is in immediate danger, call the police.

Child Abuse Reporting Numbers in your State
Child Welfare Information Gateway

Childhelp USA
Father Flanagan’s Boys Home
National Runaway Switchboard

Children’s Legal Rights
American Bar Association (ABA)
American Civil Liberties Union
National Association of Counsel for Children (NACC)

Family Resources
Grandparent Information Center

Medical Resources
American Academy of Pediatrics

Parent Resources
Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America
Center for the Improvement of Child Caring

Support for New Parents
Birth To Three
Healthy Families America® (HFA)

American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC)
American Public Human Services Association

resouce: Child Welfare Information Gateway, Prevent Child Abuse